What does the carrot symbolize in Waiting for Godot?

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mstokes | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In Act I of Waiting for Godot when Estragon declares that he is hungry, Vladimir provides a carrot, most of which Estragon eats. The diversion ends as it began, Estragon announcing that they still have nothing to do.

Throughout the play, Vladimir and Estragon remain stupidly cheerful, and seek distraction in pointless activities. In doing so, they act comically, which gives the play its humorous element. Their attempts at distraction are attempts to make time pass, to draw them closer to the time when Godot will arrive and solve all their problems. This is pure wishful thinking, but this is all that they have to look forward to, even if the action is meaningless. The only alternative to this is death, which the two contemplate but lack the courage and initiative to carry through.

Carrots and turnips are in one sense just another vehicle for Vladimir and Estragon’s comedy. Like all their cyclical exchanges we were interested in their disagreement over the vegetable: "Funny," Estragon comments as he munches, "the more you eat, the worse it gets." Vladimir quickly disagrees, adding that, for him, it’ is "just the opposite." On the one hand, this could be a completely meaningless conversation – the point is simply that Vladimir is in disagreement, playing at opposites, adding to the bickering duality between them.

 

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